A 450-pound (204 kilograms) seal wandered onto the runway of the airport in Alaska's northermost city Utqiagvik on Monday afternoon (23 October) and had to be removed using a sled.
The seal is said to have strayed from a nearby sea during a heavy winter storm on Monday. A state employee, Scott Babcock, took a picture and a video of the marine visitor and posted it to Facebook.
In a lighter vein, the state Department of Transportation warned pilots of "low sealings" at the airport, the Associated Press reported.
As the department's staff members are not allowed to handle marine mammals, they contacted the North Slope Animal Control which removed the animal before it posed a risk to incoming flights.
"Wildlife strikes to aircraft pose a significant safety hazard and cost the aviation industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year," Meadow Bailey, the department's communications director, said. "Birds make up over 90% of strikes in the US, while mammal strikes are rare."
The airport has seen birds, caribou, polar bears and musk ox on the runway, but the seal sighting is a first, Bailey said.
"It's a unique situation," Bailey said, the Atlas Obscura news website reported. "All of the staff that I've talked to, no one remembers seeing a seal on the runway [before this]."
According to Bailey, no one is sure as to why the mammal chose to come. Its tracks revealed that it had travelled about a mile on land, taking a roundabout route from the nearby Chukchi Sea.
Bailey said: "It didn't hold up any flights." People have been making a lot of jokes, she added. One of her favourites was, "No flights will depart without a seal of approval."